The UNESCO World Heritage site of the Ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu is without doubt the number one thing to do in Peru. Located nearly 2,500 meters high, getting there can be difficult (and pricey) so here are some options to suit all travelers and budgets. All visitors will start in the beautiful ex capital of Peru, Cuzco.
- Inca Trail: Needed to be booked online months ahead of schedule, this is the most expensive option but the best experience. Contact recommended tour agencies such as Tierras Vivas, Cusi Travel, Llama Path, and Adventure Life who will organise everything for you.
- Train: Book the train to take you from Cuzco to the small town of Agua Calientes (approximately two hours) where you are best off staying the night and making an early start. Early next morning you have two options: you can take the bus to the entrance (forty-five minutes but very pricey) or climb a long, steep staircase (one hour but extremely tiring) and then spend the day admiring the fantastic ruins and take the train back to Cuzco that evening.
- Bus & Walk: Either by booking a tour bus or by taking public transport; take a bus to Hidroelectric from where a two to three hour pleasant walk along the train track will take you to the small town of Agua Calientes. Again, stay the night and bright and early the next morning, hike or take the bus to the top, enjoy Machu Picchu and head back the same way. This is by far the cheapest option but you will have to leave the site by 11am to make it back to Cuzco the same day and not be left stranded.
Llamas freely stroll the site and keep the grass well kept.
- Leave Agua Calienties to the entrance early, buses start at 6am but the queues will start forming around 5am. The entrance to the staircase will open at 5am but again, people will be lining up from 4am.
- Remember to bring your passport, it is needed for entry.
- Food and water are technically not allowed in the park but bags are not checked, just remember not to litter.
- Tour agencies in Cuzco can give you all the information and be valuable help, don’t be afraid to ask, you don’t have to buy one of their tours.
- And finally, spend the day enjoying the site, looking at it with your own eyes, not wholly through camera lenses and selfie sticks!